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Pet CPR class instills confidence

January 24, 2009|By ERIN JULIUS

HALFWAY -- Meredith Reynolds wants to be a veterinarian one day. She and her mother signed up for the Pet CPR, Nutrition and First Aid class offered Saturday at Hagerstown Community College's Valley Mall Center.

Meredith, 16, also plans to intern at a veterinarian's office through the medical academy program at North Hagerstown High School, where she is a junior.

The CPR portion of the class, which involved practicing CPR on Casper the CPR dog, was easy, Meredith said.

Others had more trouble inflating the plastic Casper's lungs.

"I thought I was going to need CPR when it was over," said Rhonda McDermott of Hagerstown, who huffed and puffed before Casper's chest rose.

McDermott has lots of cats -- "they call me the cat lady in my neighborhood," she said. Some of her cats have special needs, and she wanted to learn how to care for them as best she could.

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One of McDermott's cats, named Sylvester, has feline AIDS, she said. She calls Sylvester the "millionaire-dollar kitty" because of all the medical care he requires, she said.

Now that she knows how to perform CPR on a cat or dog, she hopes to never have to use it.

Stella Grady, 18, is the daughter of Roy Grady, who serves as caretaker for dogs who inherited a house in Hagerstown and $400,000 from the estate of their former owner, Ken Kemper.

Grady helps her father with the dogs, and she and a friend also find homes for stray cats, she said. Since so much of her time is dedicated to caring for animals, she decided to become a veterinary technician and has applied to Blue Ridge Tech in Virginia, she said.

Grady took Saturday's class to learn a little about animal health, and now knows what to do in some emergency situations, she said.

"I feel a lot more confident now," she said.

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